The political devide of a nation

As daily demonstrations carry on in Sanam Luang and as the crowd swells on (as witnessed on Tuesday, 14 March at the Sanam Luang Park), protestors against Thaksin show no sign of fatigue and their protestors spirit is only seemingly fuelled by the stubbornness of Prime Minster Thaskin who sees no reason to quit while leaning on the broad support he has gained from provincials in the dominantly northern and north eastern provinces of the kingdom.

Apart from Bangkok residents, intellectuals, monks, women’s organizations and anti Thaksin protestors from else where joined a majority of southerners whom flocked to the capital in great numbers for Tuesday’s evening protest. Some of the protestors came with their entire families, wives and children.

The mood was less cozy than during the very first demonstrations previously held at the royal grounds. Not only was it pressingly hot and humid, the atmosphere was more demanding, almost suffocating. Policemen smiled less and the presence of special arrest units and even sniff dogs created a rather obnoxious atmosphere. Maybe this was enhanced by the chanting of monks at the side of the Fine Arts Dept. and opposite of the grand palace white walls.

The crowd on that particular Tuesday evening thickened and brought about many curious people, vendors and the die-hard protestors. One thing is for sure, it was a ‘golden opportunity’ for motorbike taxis, car taxis and vendors to make a fast bath. And although traffic seemed to flow quite orderly it was still a nuisance for people who work in the area to reach home. Thus most commuters were forced to squeeze on the public transportation hence buses were thoroughly overloaded with passengers.

A Chinese-opera style (propaganda) play took place on stage and the accusations about Thaksin pampering the north and neglecting the rest of the country was emphasized on. With impressive sounds that usually also accompany a real Chinese Opera. Imagine the swelling of the crowd with its beggars and poor people, teenagers and spectators, chanting monks through speakers. Huge TV-screens showed close-up shots of the crowd and the news broadcasted on other channels. The crowd was hectic, it was moving in all directions. Not many seemed to be willing to sit. There was a sense of impatience and anxiety as well as frustration and exhaustion. This could be a dangerous cocktail for a protest starting peaceful but eventually ending violent.

However with the new information age and all the technologies available to capture a protest, and not unimportantly the international attention Thailand currently enjoys, the whole world is watching and wondering if a similar bloody protest referred to as “Black May” could happen again.

Thais are known as peace-loving people inspired by not only Buddhism are reluctant of resorting to violence. However it needs little to plunge the situation into crisis. Anywhere are ill-intentioned people plotting their filthy schemes.
In any case it should be emphasized that what has kept Thailand together for centuries was its “unity in diversity”. The strength of Thailand lies in the co-operation of fellow- Thais to keep the enemy out. That’s also how Thailand could withstand colonialism.

It would be morally just for Thaksin not to think of keeping office in the first place even though lawfully he’s still the PM of the kingdom. He should question the morality of tax evasion which handled about billions of Thai baths was too much to bare in a country where the average labor salary is registered at 184 bt. per day. That would be the first step. Secondly he should contemplate if the hurt southerners feel over his policies and sayings about people living in those southern provinces weren’t a bit (soflty put) blunt. If Thaksin is a man of reason, his first concern should be the unity of the kingdom, which was actually sealed for quite a few years already. It’s not a fight of who should be in power, it’s a fight of how we interpret democracy. Where one portion of the Thai nation favors the Thai Rak Thai choosen leader and on the other hand there are those Bangkokians and southerners alike who would rather see the PM resign.

The divide between the North and South must stop. The divide between the intellectuals and the poor must come to an end. It’s all so easy for Thaskin if he wasn’t so stubborn.
We don’t need a divide, what this country needs is reconciliation

Now Bangkok braces itself for Friday’s pro government rally and pro Thaksin league Provincials have already gathered in Patum Thani province and will set to Anandha Samakhom throne hall, preferably addressed bluntly by the press as ‘Government House’.

I sincerely hope that they can also stage their support for Thaksin as this is a key fundament to democracy. However we should be more sensitive towards cultural and religious institutions. I’d hope that any protestor would look deep inside the core reason of joining a protest, regardless in favor or against the PM. Also I’d like to add that if the monks decide to join protests they should be aware of their impact they have in Thai society.

We need to be rational, sensible and honest. Also let us use respect for each other even if we disagree on political stands. All people have emotions and feelings. We should remain righteous whenever we accuse someone or whenever we hear gossip or whispers. Facts should be presented so we could proof and establish whether someone’s wrongdoing was indeed severe. Thais have a saying for ‘calm down’ it’s concept is even wider than just cooling down, it could also mean come back to your senses. It goes like this “Yai yen yen!”
When the body is too hot the brain cannot function nor reason sensibly.
A further personal note towards Thaskin and his opponents, I wish him wisdom in his decisions and I hope he’ll concentrate on the unity and dignity of the Thai people. (And for the anti Thaksin protestors) Indeed how many people’s powers do we need and wasn’t it the same people’s power who brought Gloria Macapgal Arroyo president of The Philippines to power in the first place; in a similar power struggle as in Thailand? Only join a protest if you’ve reasoned why you should join, and investigate the accusations and not just follow the gossips or commonly perceived thoughts of people. This will give you a better insight on issues that you want to address. Knowledge is power after all. Both parties need to accept that stubbornness is not the way to a democratic process.
And after Thaksin who’s going to be the right leader for the country? Question yourself always and try to find the pure solution, which will work for not only you but the rest of the country also.

Matthijs Cornelissen

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